A progressive, youth-oriented South Asian community arts festival is now headed by a hip, young, brown woman. Today, the 5X Fest announced that 27-year-old Harpo Mander is the new executive director of the Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration Society. The society’s biggest event is the multi-faceted 5X Fest, which took place in June in Surrey and Vancouver.
“I want to put Metro Vancouver on the map,” Mander declared in a news release. “We have a world-class festival here and the biggest Panjabi stars in the world come here to work, play, and immerse themselves in this community. We should be celebrating that!”
In addition to presenting musicians, the festival put on the 5X Art Party at the Surrey Art Centre and a 5X Pride event at Village Studios. 5X Fest also hosted a workshop on Desi-Futurism at the Beaumont.
Mander has already spent three years as the festival’s general manager. In becoming executive director of the society, she succeeds Delhi2Dublin musician Tarun Nayar.
According to the news release, Nayar will remain associated with the 5X Fest. He’s currently developing a live streaming platform for the event with Invoke Media Inc.
Mander stands up for Surrey
In addition to working for the festival, the McGill University-educated Mander hosts a podcast called Brown Girl Guilt.
She’s also fiercely proud of her Surrey roots. In a 2021 post on the 5X Fest website, Mander noted how good she felt after seeing the Diljit Dosanjh hit film Honsla Rakh, which was mostly shot in Surrey.
“Not only is Surrey home to wonderful on-screen talent, but there are a ton of talented creatives all across the city who are incredibly capable of pulling off internationally recognized and acclaimed projects in more capacities than one,” she wrote.